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Video Game Reviews

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2003

Ferrari F355 Challenge

  • System: PlayStation 2
  • Company: Sega
  • Price: $49.99
  • Rating: Everyone
  • Grade: B+

For motorsports fans who consider themselves a little more sophisticated than the NASCAR crowd, Ferrari F355 Challenge gives you the virtual keys to one of the world's most elite automobiles.

Licensed by Ferrari, this game can seem at times more like a virtual reality experience than a game. Though users can play an arcade version of this game, the real meat of it is in the other modes. Five modes of play offer something for everyone -- from the never-dull two-player races (with split screens to keep track of your car and your opponent) to the Great Driver Challenge. In this mode, players are scored more on their driving techniques than their finish in the race.

Though the game can be played with standard PS2 controllers, hard-core racing fans may want to spring for a wheel system to appreciate more of the realism and feel typically offered in most racing games.

Meanwhile, gearheads can customize their own F355 (right down to what sort of brake system you prefer) and view detailed reports of their test drives. Photographs and videos from Ferrari can be viewed as well. The amount of these archived gems increases as a driver's achievements mount. A nice incentive.

Fans of competing racing games might be disappointed with what's missing. A radar screen takes the place of a rear-view mirror. And there's no throwing the car into reverse after a bad spill; these cars run only forward. Many players will find these acceptable tradeoffs for a game that takes the checker flag by crossing competitive racing with realistic simulations.

-- STEVE SPEARS, Times staff writer

NBA Inside Drive 2003

  • System: Xbox
  • Company: Microsoft
  • Price: $49.99
  • Rated: Everyone
  • Grade: A

NBA Inside Drive 2003 has got to be one of the best basketball games around. It has great graphics, a deep player creator, a good season mode and realistic game play. If you like basketball games, you'll love NBA Inside Drive.

One of the best things about this game is the passing system. Press A to pass to a player the computer chooses or press Y to bring up passing icons above all the players, allowing you to choose who to pass to. It's sort of like a football game.

Also, the juke moves (or deke, as they're called in the game) can be handled by using the right analog stick. Depending on what direction you're walking, and the direction you move the right analog stick, you'll do a different move, making juking a quick and painless process.

If you want a version of yourself on the court, you can always do that too. The player creator is very deep, allowing you to customize shoes, socks, accessories, hairstyle and skin, face and even eye color. Also, there are so many different categories to distribute your skill points. You can make a player to suit your particular style. And if your player receives awards and does well, you get more skill points, allowing you to make a dream player.

NBA Inside Drive 2003 is realistic, fun, deep and pleasant on the eyes. The only bad things I could find were that you have to wait until a season is over to add your created player to the team roster. And it is difficult to control defense when you first start out. All in all, Inside Drive 2003 is a must-buy.

-- ANDERS SCHERBERGER, Times correspondent

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